1891 Diary of an Popular, Active and Responsible Young Brooklyn Woman

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On offer is a very interesting diary of a fairly well-off woman living in Brooklyn, New York in 1891. 

The diary was printed for W.G Hitchcock & Co who were importers and manufacturers located in New York City. It was presumably sold or given out as an advertising piece. It is full of advertisements for a wide variety of products.

The author is a woman named Mamie A. [Lous? Ivans?] of 483 1st St, Brooklyn. Unfortunately after attempts to determine who our diarist is, we were unable to do so. We do know that she was a young Brooklyn woman who was extremely social and entertaining many callers, both male and female. She does not seem to work, rather tends to her home and cares for family and friends, including an ill relation named Charrie and another relation named Gussie whose “days out” are recorded regularly in Mamie’s diary. 

In her diary, she records the daily events in her life including visits with friends, errands done, shopping, family matters etc. From context, she appears to be rather well-off as her family retains a servant.

“Today looks like rain. Mrs. Bettie Burr was here to luncheon. Kelsey, she and I met Dr. Burr and wife at South Ferry and all went on board the “State of Nevada”. Dr.B and wife returning home with us…” [May 12].

“Had a hard shower last night but it has been a beautiful day., unusually quiet. Gussie has had a holiday consequently I have had lots of work to do…” [June 4].

“Allie and I came home and Allie made white waist for me. Paid Allie $2 for sewing. Hanna and I called at “Lululs”, Carrie and Mag drove up” [June 24].

“Met Mr. Barber on Bridge train as I was going over to NY. Mr. Burr returned from Lewis River” [Sept 28]. 

“Pa is quite sick with rheumatism” [Oct 13].

“Cousin Lib came up, Charrie went home with her. Beautiful day. Mr. Faulkner called this eve” [Nov 6].

“Charrie & I went shopping. Went to dancing school with K” [Nov 28]. 

She mentions the names of several well-known ships that were part of the international commercial shipping industry

“Wrote to George. Carrie, Mrs Colman & Bula were on board the “Parthia”” [Mar 11]. 

“George wanted me to go on board the ship today but as Capt. Sere  is sick with mumps. I was afraid to venture as I never had them” [Mar 13]. 

“George sailed today for San Francisco in the ship “Parthia” This is first voyage…” [Mar 18].

For a social historian, this diary offers a look into the world of a comfortable, middle-class woman in New York City near the end of the 19th century. For a Gender Studies program, it certainly provides a picture of the life experiences of some women at this time. It also offers a link to the days of the great sailing and steam ships that were the backbone of international commerce.

The diary measures 8.0 inches by 5.25 inches and contains 52 pages. The covers are in good condition and the binding is intact. This diary is perfect-bound across the top of the book. The pages are also in very good condition. The diary is 90% complete and the handwriting is legible.

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